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We want trade not aid, says Zardari.

ISLAMABAD, April 09, 2010 (Balochistan Times): President Asif Ali Zardari Friday said Pakistan would offer free trade zone facilities for locally produced goods, for export to the regional markets and a one-window facility for the investors in Pakistan. According to Presidency Spokesman, speaking here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr at a dinner in honour of Lahore chamber of commerce and industry, the President said Pakistan would provide a tax free regime to goods produced in Pakistan for export to the regional markets and added that such trade free zones will also have dedicated power facilities. He said the one-window facility will also overcome bureaucratic delays and help those who wish to invest in the country. We also have adopted a policy of public-private partnership and offer same incentives and facilities to local and foreign entrepreneurs. The President said Pakistans ports were closer to some markets in China and India from even those countries own ports. He said Pakistan offers unique opportunities to business and entrepreneurs, both national and from other countries. He said the country has a strategic location that enables it to serve the market of over two billion people in China, India and Central Asia. Perhaps no other country has such a strategic location or claim such a great opportunity to businessmen and entrepreneurs, he added. President Zardari said Pakistan was engaged in a serious war against militancy that was also very costly. Our armed forces, police, para-military forces and the citizens have made huge sacrifices, the President said and added We salute their heroism and courage. The President said the war on terror has also inflicted huge damage on Pakistans economy. The war against militancy has cost us over 35 billion dollars, the President said and added the government had to curtail its Public Sector Development program. He said the cut on the development program and infrastructure projects has put great pressure on the business community and their input costs have increased substantially. He pointed that it has also adversely impacted on their competitiveness and as a result the country was losing its share in major export markets of the European Union and the United States. He said the principal reason for decline in export earnings was due to the country increasingly becoming non-competitive. President Zardari said due to on going fight against militants international buyers, entrepreneurs and technicians were shying away from coming to Pakistan. He said though the international freight charges have gone down but Pakistan freight forwarders charge higher overheads due to risk of terror attacks and the shipping companies have introduced a war risk surcharge, to cover the high insurance cost. Our position in the world textile market is being adversely impacted- from that of principal suppliers to back up suppliers, the President said and added that all these have serious social implications. He said in crease in the level of poverty has implications both for Pakistan and the international community and that was why Pakistan has been asking for greater market access. He said Pakistan immediately needs aid and pointed that consequences of delaying it would be serious. If help in this area does not come quickly it may be too late, he said and stressed We want trade, NOT aid. He said aid was welcome but in Pakistans situation trade was more sustainable as it helps integrate people and cultures across borders. It also helps in removing the negative perceptions of developed countries that the militants propagate, he added. President Zardari said while Pakistan will continue to explore new markets and diversify its products mix, we definitely immediately need a preferential treatment by our major trading partners. We believe that we are entitled to it on account of our sacrifices and suffering on behalf of the international community in the war against terror, the President said. He said it was time for the international community to think of ways to compensate the countries most adversely impacted by the war on terror by making some allowance to them for market access. The President also noted with satisfaction that the President Lahore Chamber of Commerce was holding Ambassadors Conference in Gilgit-Baltistan in May this year to highlight the business and investment potential of that area. With the political reforms recently announced in Gilgit- Baltistan I am confident that this potential will increase manifold. I am also pleased that a fashion show has been planned to be held in Paris. He said the fashion show will not only help project Pakistans textile and garments industry but also promote the soft image of Pakistan. I welcome these initiatives and assure that the Government will extend full support to these initiatives in meeting their objectives. The President complimented the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry for the initiative to bring the business community together and said the practice would continue. He said such gatherings and meetings were most helpful in extending the businessmen and industrialists reach on the one hand and in informing the outside world through the diplomats of the business potential Pakistan offers, on the other. The dinner was attended by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi and members of the business community and ambassadors.

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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Apr 9, 2010
Words:874
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